This book was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
29.10.19 / Titan Books / Game Design / Hardback / 208pp / 978-1789090819
Target Audience: Readers interested in the various design stages of both the Borderlands series and games in general. For those who want insights into how elements of the game came to be and also what could have been.
About The Art Of Borderlands 3
The Art of Borderlands 3 explores the creation and iconic design of Gearbox Software’s award-winning hit video game series.
The Art of Borderlands 3 is a breathtaking celebration of Gearbox Software’s critically acclaimed role-playing shooter video game series. Featuring hundreds of pieces of dynamic concept art, this book includes full-color images that illustrate how the Borderlands team brought the game’s larger-than-life characters, expansive world, and diverse array of weapons to life. Experience the danger and distinctive beauty of Pandora like never before with this comprehensive collection of sketches, paintings, character studies, and more. Featuring exclusive interviews with the artists and developers who created Pandora, The Art of Borderlands 3 is a must-have collector’s item for every Vault Hunter.
The Art Of Borderlands 3 Review
Borderlands 3, and the series in general, is ground-breaking effort by the people over at Gearbox. With it’s absurdly addictive humour and game mechanics, dynamic and stimulating visuals (not cel-shaded), engaging lore and unforgettable characters it is a hard game to pass up. Borderlands 3 brings a whole new galaxy to explore and a host of new characters to find, help or fight. With this ambitious new step forward comes a whole bunch of new design choices. Building new characters, locations and weapons from the ground up as well as refreshing the existing world and the fan favourite cast for a whole new adventure.
The Art Of Borderlands 3 contains the spirit of this task and Chris Allcock, with the help of Art Director Scott Kester, has done an outstanding job bringing the soul of the Borderlands series to the page. Chris Allcock understands game design inside and out. He worked on Sea Of Thieves, among other Rare projects, which is another of my all time favourite games. Chris documents the evolution of the series that brought role-playing looter shooters to forefront of modern gaming with a huge book of stunning concept art and designs that provide fascinating insights into the thought process and tough decisions the teams made when approaching each individual gun, landscape, inhabitant and enemy that the vault hunters face.
The sheer amount of detail and visual information included here is staggering and I actually lost all track of time when venturing amongst the art and descriptions. Every page is a feast of awesomeness. Each drawing and design telling a tale and making me fall in love with the game all over again each and every time. I found it nearly impossible to tear my eyes away from the soaring and alien landscapes, the intricacy of the weapon design where every line added personality and seeing all the early ideas for goody and baddy alike morph into what we see in the finished game. Chris Allcock also reveals backstories, influences and alternative ideas through a series of interviews, character bios and captions that further boosts the experience of delving into this world.
Borderlands has always been an ambitious game, in both design and game-play, and the team bend over backwards to elevate every inch of the newest instalment to new heights. Creating yet another team of Vault Hunters from scratch to take on the new threats posed by a villainous duo, the Calypso Twins. This is where The Art Of Borderlands 3 really captured me as the possibilities for the new individuals were endless and Gearbox made the task a whole team effort (instead of focused groups) which broadened the horizons even further. It is a double sided coin though because there are designs that didn’t make it in that I would have loved to have seen. A Robin Hood style FL4K would have been epic but the final design is brilliant so no complaints here.
What makes Borderlands 3 special is that every single fibre of the game is considered vital. There isn’t a part of this game that hasn’t been nurtured, optimised and crafted with care and attention. Even each of the 1 Billion+ guns in the game have a different sound! The Art Of Borderlands 3 is a charming ode to the hard work the team puts into giving us an opportunity to explore new worlds, buddy up with a phenomenal cast of outlaws, robots, rare creatures and powerful beings. The Art Of Borderlands 3 captures the magic of this series perfectly and dazzles the reader with its imagination.
TAOB3 is a collector’s piece yes but it is also a must read for any gamer. It’s important that we all gain further appreciation for the infinite amount of steps and decisions it takes to bring a game to life, especially as the standards for the typical video game in 2019 and going forward is only ever getting higher and higher. Borderlands 3 is a game of exploration, of saving others and uniting a galaxy. The state of modern gaming needs a game that shakes up the way we see games for the future and I see Borderlands 3 as the beginning of a new state of play.
About Chris Allcock
Chris Allcock is a game designer and writer whose career began at Rare Ltd. in 2003. He has helped create a wide variety of acclaimed titles, including Kameo: Elements of Power, Kinect Sports, Rare Replay, and most recently Sea of Thieves. He currently lives in the English Midlands and is probably drinking tea.